By Dan Murphy
In a recent census conducted by the Boston Police of the overnight homeless population in Area A-1 during the summer months, the mean age of those interviewed was approximately 42 years old.
Between Aug. 24 and 26, officers under the supervision of Captain Kenneth Fong of Area A-1, along with a member of the police’s Street Outreach Team and representative from St. Anthony Shrine, walked around the district, which includes Beacon Hill, Chinatown and downtown, beginning at around 3 a.m. and spoke with homeless individuals in parks, garages, alleys, doorways and other locations. The team interviewed 145 parties to gather demographic information, including how long they have been homeless, where they are from and whether they are veterans.
The mean age of 42.1 in the most recent semi-annual study was slightly older than in the summer 2015 census, which found that the mean age of 153 homeless individuals interviewed was 40.6. A census taken of the overnight homeless population in the winter of 2016 indicated that the mean age of 53 individuals interviewed was 42.2 while the mean age was 40.1 of 72 parties who participated in the first in the winter of 2014 study. More than two-thirds of respondents in all four censuses to date were ages 50 and younger.
Around 80 percent of those interviewed during the most recent census were male, as opposed to 78 percent in the winter of 2014. The overnight female homeless-population was up slightly during the winter months, accounting for 27 percent of those interviewed in 2016 and 24 percent in 2014.
In the most recent census, approximately 66 percent of participants had been living on the street for less than five years, compared with 64 percent in last summer’s study. Around 67 percent fit that description in the winter of 2016 census and 65 percent in the winter of 2014 study. In all four censuses, about 85 percent of those interviewed had been homeless for less than 10 years.
The vast majority (ranging from 84 to 94 percent) of participants in all four studies identified themselves as U.S. citizens while around two-thirds of respondents said they were from Massachusetts.
Around 10 percent in the recent census identified themselves as veterans, compared with 7 percent last summer and 8 and 11 percent in the winters of 2016 and 2014, respectively.
In all four surveys, participants most often cited the Pine Street Inn as the agency from which they had received assistance.